Animals can provide soothing companionship, and some independent and assisted living communities accept and encourage owners to keep a suitable pet. At Lifestream at Youngtown, we provide floor plans that can accommodate a small pet in the independent living wing.
Before setting your heart on a pet-friendly community, it's important to know what's considered a suitable pet when you move into an assisted living or independent community environment.
While size matters in dogs, it's also important to consider the temperament, ease of care, maintenance and energy levels of the breed. For instance, Jack Russell terriers might be small, but they're high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise. Some great small breeds for these communities are bichon frise, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, French bulldog, Maltese, Pomeranian and pug.
Cats are ideal pets in senior living communities, especially if they're house trained. They're low maintenance to groom and have fewer health issues than dogs. They're also less reliant on their owners than dogs. Cats are typically soothing, and many will cuddle, which is an important component of companionship. The cat's purr is at a frequency known to release a happy hormone called oxytocin in both the cat and its human. Owning a cat can also boost your heart health. Studies show there's a lowered risk of dying of a myocardial infarction or other cardiovascular diseases, including strokes, by simply partaking in cat companionship.
Birds are great pets for those who want the benefits of companionship but have limited space or mobility. They're intelligent animals that provide many years of entertainment and social engagement. Some of the reasons to consider a bird if you're in an assisted living community include:
Fish are some of the most low-maintenance pets to own, and a fish tank also improves the aesthetics of your environment. You can adjust the size of the tank and the type of fish you keep according to your needs. While fish may not provide that cuddle effect, they are soothing to watch.
A tortoise is a remarkable pet that has an incredible life span. In the right environment, tortoises can live even longer than their human counterparts. They're generally quiet and low-maintenance, and food costs are often low and can easily fit into your general food budget. While tortoises do well outside, you can also keep small ones in a tank indoors. All you'll need is a low-wattage bulb and a UV light to mimic outdoor light. Fresh food and water should ensure your tortoise remains in good health. However, the tank needs to remain clean to ensure high hygiene levels. It's also important to wash your hands immediately after handling a tortoise or their vivaria as there's a risk of salmonella.
Rats are incredibly loyal and make brilliant companions. You can buy domesticated rats from reputable breeders. Domesticated rats like to snuggle and hardly bite. The only drawback of owning a rat is that it has a short life span of only 2 to 4 years. For those who are worried about loved ones having to care for their pets after they pass, this might be a great option. Rats groom themselves, but their cages need to be kept clean to keep your rat in good health. Rats are an ideal option if you don't have a garden unit but still want a pet you can cuddle.
While pets offer great companionship, it's important that you can care for it and that it integrates well into the community. Some things to consider include: